Building a Winning Robotics Program at Stevenson, with the Help of Alumni Support

This year, Stevenson Robotics students participated in their first ever Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center ROV (remote-operated vehicle) competition. Students designed and constructed an ROV, submitted technical documentation about their project, delivered engineering presentations to STEM professionals who serve as judges, created poster displays that explain their ROV design, and described the real-world problem the ROV is supposed to solve.
 
This year’s participants were tasked to design and build an ROV that would address plastic pollution, global warming, coral bleaching, or the management of healthy waterways. Students on the RLS team came from a range of grade levels and academic interests. They worked together virtually for the majority of the year. For the seven consecutive Saturdays prior to the competition, eight dedicated team members worked full days together in person—then, in the two weeks leading up to the event, they met every day. 
 
To accommodate the School’s academic calendar, the MATE center ran a special judging just for Stevenson students in the Pirate Pool two weeks earlier than the general regional competition, which included up to 100 teams. The students demonstrated their ROV, then participated in an oral presentation and Q&A over Zoom—which team member Daniel He joined from Shanghai. All team members spoke about a particular aspect of the ROV and the process, and they were judged by MATE executive director Jill Zande, as well as 3 other judges.  
 
Upper division science teacher and robotics instructor Kevin D’Angelo reports: “It was a very respectable first year! We were in a class by ourselves because the other teams had to use a tank at NPS instead of a pool, but we were very competitive, all things considered.” He lauded the participants’ hard work and excellent results:  “They put in tremendous effort. They got along fantastically as a team. They maintained their composure between demo runs and found a solution to issues that arose, under time pressure. All of their hard work paid off. I am super proud of all of them, their efforts, and the results, and I look forward to having real development time next year—and seeing the things they will do with it.”
 
Stevenson students were able to participate in MATE thanks to the support of donors—especially Vincent Lin ‘91. Vincent and his family recently made a donation to the School in order to support its commitment to robotics. Their gift allowed the School to make purchases that enabled competition participation, like multiple 3D printers, as well as other tools that were necessary for students to bring their ROV to life.
 
Vincent currently lives and works in Taiwan and also has a home in California. His decision to make a donation to RLS’ robotics program was driven by a desire to ensure that “students could be taught, trained, and practiced on the best equipment available.” He hopes his donation helps to provide students with a rich learning experience, adding: “This is for the future of our kids.” 

Vincent explains that what makes RLS so unique is its “diverse community and the enduring core values of safety, respect, trust, belonging, and inclusion… and also, most importantly, the spirit embodied in its motto--‘Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re’.” He feels grateful for his time at Stevenson, and in turn, is happy to give back. He explains, “My time at Stevenson taught me many tools that I have used in my growth. Independence, interpersonal communication skills, and more.” 

Vincent hopes that his support of the robotics program allows the participants to thrive, and urges students: “Have confidence in your abilities and in the values you have learned at RLS-- they will serve you well.” He also adds one final piece of advice to both current students and other Pirate alums: “Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate! Be proud to be a Pirate! Hold Fast!”